Friday, December 15

Shopping Tips: Brand Name Vs. Generic

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Most Americans, if given the chance, would gladly pay more for a name brand item than the generic equivalent. We are a society obsessed with status, and nothing says status like wearing designer clothing and purchasing name brand appliances, food, furniture, and other items.

For many years, there has been a stigma towards off-brand and generic items. However, with the deepening economic woes our nation is facing, more and more people are practicing frugality and finding ways to save money. While this is a good habit to get into, switching to generic or off-brand items is only beneficial for certain items. In some cases, it is actually more economical in the long run to invest in top-quality brands.

Let’s take a look at clothing, for example. For occasionally worn items, such as jackets, ties, or dress shoes, it is not necessary to buy designer brands. However, the opposite is true for sneakers. Since sneakers are worn often, a pair of sneakers bought for $15.00 will almost always wear out long before a pair of name-brand sneakers. While it may be downright ridiculous to pay in excess of $100.00 for a pair of sneakers, it is always better to buy quality brands, such as Nike, Converse, or Adidas. The secret is to shop around and find the best bargain. There are many stores which specialize in selling name-brand factory seconds, which may have slight imperfections. Even a pair of Nikes purchased for $40.00 at one of these stores will still last longer than an off-brand.

Food, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Most of the timethere is no difference in quality between name-brand and generic brands. The only difference is in the packaging. It is a little-known fact that many “Sam’s Choice” products found in your local Wal-Mart are actually manufactured in the very same factory that makes the name-brand equivalents. Therefore, a jar of Sam’s Choice peanut butter will taste exactly the same as a jar of Jiff peanut peanut butter. By switching from name-brand food items to generic or store-brand items, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

There are some items for which it is always a good idea to buy the best that you can afford. This is true for many electronic items, such as DVD players, computers, and televisions. The same is also true for appliances such as microwaves, dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines. Not only do name-brand appliances last longer, but they generally have better warranties. And should your big-ticket appliance ever need servicing or repair, it is much easier to find parts for a Maytag or a Whirlpool than for some foreign brand whose name is unfamiliar.

As you can see, the key to saving money is to know where to cut corners. On food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other minor items, there is no difference in quality between brand name items and generic items. But on big-ticket items, such as major appliances and electronics, is it wise to steer clear of off-brand manufacturers.

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